Remember when your 7th grade teacher told you not to trust Wikipedia? We review topical Wikipedia entries for accuracy, completion, writing quality, and inanity.
Sometimes, the rich and powerful will be introduced to the mainstream via a reality show, a society appearance, or a carefully orchestrated sex tape. Sometimes, their debut is less choreographed. Such was the case for the adult daughters of former Trump campaign chairman and international lobbyist Paul Manafort, who was indicted in October on charges including laundering more than $18 million.
Andrea Manafort Shand and Jessica Manafort entered the public consciousness through Andrea’s 280,000 hacked text messages, which provided a peek into the life of an oligarch’s progeny. “Don’t fool yourself,” Andrea texted Jessica in March 2015. “That money we have is blood money.”
I wanted to know more, mostly because I’m incredibly nosy and love reading about crazy rich people and their scandals. Sadly, Wikipedia came up short on the Manafort sisters. Andrea had no Wikipedia page. Jessica “Jess” Manafort did: It was created on June 3, 2007 by Wikipedia user M.Naff and centered on her film career. Sadly, the entry is nigh-useless. It was even proposed for deletion with the note: “Non-notable director; lacks significant coverage in independent media sources, failing.”
Is there anything to be learned from this “failing” Wikipedia entry? When I first checked it, the page mentioned that Peter Debruge of Variety said Manafort’s film Remember the Daze “demonstrates considerable promise on the part of its director,” but didn’t mention that it was panned by critics. The entry notes that she has a father, Paul, but referred to him only as a “Washington powerbroker.”
I started to wonder if the person behind Jessica Manafort’s Wikipedia page could perhaps be Jessica Manafort herself. A line about Jessica “receiving a letter of recommendation from the legendary film director Martin Scorsese” and a since-removed line about how she “continued to excel at the craft of filmmaking at NYU” were added by a user in Arlington, Virginia. A quick Google search led me to Andrea Manafort’s baby registry, which taught me two things: 1) rich people aren’t above asking for cash gifts; 2) Andrea Manafort lives in Arlington, Virginia.
The entry notes that she has a father, Paul, but referred to him only as a “Washington powerbroker.”
But if Jessica is editing her own page — or asking her sister to do it — it hasn’t improved its accuracy. The page asserts that she “currently resides in New York City,” while the New York Post reported in May that she has lived in California “for years.” Her page also claims she is “nearing the end of pre-production for The Beautiful Ordinary” except it was renamed Remember the Daze and released in 2008.
Other things the Wikipedia entry fails to mention: Manafort has a flower tattoo on her wrist, as does Remember the Daze star Leighton Meester. Neither Andrea nor her texts are mentioned. Manafort’s ex-husband, Jeffrey Yohai, was not mentioned on the page until November 4, when Wikipedia user Cazer78 added a sentence about their divorce. Cazer78 missed the fact, however, that Yohai appeared on the season 5 finale of the Bravo show Million Dollar Listing in 2015, in which he purchased three apartments for $15 million — in cash. (In June, the New York Times reported that Andrea texted a friend about the episode after it aired. “Of course they don’t” have that kind of money, Andrea wrote. “[Jessica’s] hubby is running a Ponzi scheme.”) Nor does the Wikipedia entry mention that Paul Manafort bought Jessica and Yohai a $2.8 million Soho loft — which was allegedly used as an illegal Airbnb — in early 2016, as well as a $3 million Brooklyn brownstone in 2012. The broker who sold the brownstone told the New York Times in November that Jessica and her husband said they planned to renovate it and move in, but they never did. Federal investigators alleged the brownstone was a mechanism for money laundering.
Wikipedia is supposed to be a place for answers to your burning questions, like Did Jessica Manafort know her father was using the brownstone he bought her to launder money? (unclear), What was the critical reception of Remember the Daze, Jessica Manafort’s first feature film? (tepid), and On which episode of Million Dollar Listing did Jessica Manafort’s ex husband, Jeff Yohai, appear, and can I stream it anywhere, just wondering? (Season 5, episode 12, titled “Seaportlandia,” and no you cannot, not even with the Bravo app).
The final edit: Jessica Manafort’s Wikipedia page is incomplete, boring, and at times sycophantic; I’d give it a D.
In a word: Unsatisfying.